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What's Up: Gifford Likely To Have Expanded Role


With free agency looming, roster turnover isn't far away. However, a significant portion of the 2020 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, will feature players who are currently under contract for next season, analyzing their past season and their future prospects.

Today, we continue the series with linebacker Luke Gifford.

What's Been Good:

If you're time is limited, at least make the most of it. Gifford followed that rule throughout the offseason and into the first two weeks of training camp. In less than a half of his first preseason game, Gifford picked off a pass in San Francisco before suffering an ankle injury that kept him out over six weeks. Still, that play solidified his spot to make the team and stay on the roster until he got healthy. He did have three special teams tackles in one game against the Giants.

What's Been Bad:

The only bad part about his first season was injuries. Gifford's ankle injury prevented him from taking his game to the next level. While he came back to action as primarily a special teams performer, Gifford spent the last two weeks of the season on IR after suffering a broken arm against the Rams on Dec. 15.

What's Next:

Just about every linebacker on the depth chart has some kind of uncertainty. Considering Gifford is still inexperienced and coming off an injury, he would be included in that group. But at least he is expected to make a full recovery in the offseason and should be in position to grab more playing time. Depending on what happens in free agency, Gifford likely will be in the mix for a backup role and a core special teams player. But that could change if Sean Lee doesn't return. And considering the health concerns of Leighton Vander Esch, Gifford could wind up getting extensive playing time, especially if he takes that traditional leap from a rookie to his second year.

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